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Saturday, January 30, 2010

HELPING HANDS Jennifer Chapman meets the amazing army of volunteers who keep the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum going strong: Pages 20 & 21


The Chronicle, Saturday, January 30, 2010. — Page 19

our military museum

MUSIC MAN: Ed Francis on the piano help keeps the museum’s guests entertained. 10m046a

GNARLY HARLEY: Retired Maryborough City Council chief executive officer Noel Gorrie, who has been a volunteer since August 2007, with a WWII Harley Davidson motorbike 1942/43. 10m046f After moving from the Northern Territory to the Heritage City four years ago, the pair was invited to help out by another friendly volunteer. A couple of days every week Reean guides people through the museum while they both are both involved in the Ship to Shore tours. “There is great camaraderie,” says Marion when asked why she loves being involved. “It has some fabulous displays, the contents here are quite some-

thing. Also the friendliness; there are no levels, we are all equalled and valued and encouraged and we joke about pay rises.” aryborough Military and Colonial Museum has 4000 registered items on display including war medals, photographs of soldiers, letters, shrapnel and flags. Helping to house much of the war memorabilia are frames and cabinets made by volunteer Darrell Blackley who helped fit out The Gallipoli Room.


The duties have given the retired builder something to keep him busy for the past two to three years. “The beauty of this is it’s not going to be here for five minutes, it’ll be here forever, your grandchildren will come and see it,” says Darrell proudly. he two volunteers donating the most of their time to preserving history and allowing others to be a part of that are John and Else Meyers. After John sold his share in


A World War II uniform (left) worn by Maryborough sailor Ronald Victor Bray is on display at the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum. 10m046e Dale and Meyers he and Else started the museum. They dedicated it to their two children, Geoffrey John and Karen Janine, who were killed at just 18 and 16 years of age when a semitrailer crashed into their car on the Bruce Highway in Gympie in 1982. Their photographs hang in the stairwell. When starting the museum, John and Else were unsure whether any volunteers would want to help, if they did, how long they would stay and whether there

A Ferret Scout Car used by the British and Australian armies following World War II from 1959 to 1973 takes pride of place in the museum. 10m046i would be any visitors. But six years after opening, John says the museum continues to be greatly supported by locals. “It’s far better than our greatest expectations.” ■ The Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum is 106 Wharf Street, Maryborough; it is open 9am to 3pm, seven days a week; phone 4123 5900

The Chronicle, Saturday, January 30, 2010. — Page 21

Meet the army behind

It is the camaraderie, respect and excuse for a get-together that has attracted 70 Fraser Coast residents to pour their heart and soul into one of Maryborough’s most proud historical attractions. The volunteers of Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum all have their own special role and relish the opportunity to be involved. Jennifer Chapman met with those volunteers to hear their stories.


FRIEND introduced Zoe and Grahame Schuh to the Wharf Street museum after its official opening in July 2005. Grahame’s special interest is the Cobb and Co Coach while Zoe loves the paintings displayed on the walls spanning all three levels. The couple does not have any military history tied to their families but they definitely appreciate it. Their involvement in the museum is also based on companionship: “We have a lot of gatherings, morning tea when it’s someone’s birthday,” explained Zoe. “We’ve met a lot of nice people that we couldn’t have met otherwise,” she continued. “It’s been really good. We all get along so well. “It’s like a community,” added Grahame. The pair agrees the museum has a “lovely feel to it”. “John (Meyer) is top dog and no one can climb the social ladder,” said Zoe. “We’re just all volunteers; but that doesn’t mean we can’t suggest an idea.” Grahame helps around the museum with carpentry work and making door and safe locks. Zoe laughs as she tells that her role is making coffee for everyone. “I tell people my specialty is thieving money off people coming through the door,” chuckled Grahame. ill Christensen was born and bred in Maryborough and was approached to help out at the museum by owner John Meyer in 2008. It was not until March last year however that the retiree joined the group. Bill mans the museum every Tuesday, opening the doors at 9am and closing up at 3pm.


GET TOGETHER: Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum volunteers gather for a Thursday morning session. Photos: JOCELYN WATTS 10m046a

‘We get a lot of comments from people saying this museum is just as good, if not better, than the Canberra museum because of the community and personal service. No other museum outside Canberra has three Victoria Crosses in Australia’ He is humble about his role and describes it as “doing normal volunteer things”. Those normal things involve keeping the displays tidy, putting out and bringing in the signs, making sure the building is secure when everyone leaves and showing all of the visitors through the rooms. Despite his modest description he is nothing but proud when he talks about the military collection that includes a Ferret Scout Car Mark 2/3 dating back to the ’70s and taking pride of place on the

Page 20 — The Chronicle, Saturday, January 30, 2010.

ANZAC ARCHIVE: Darrell Blackley dedicates his time to maintaining the Gallopolli Room. floor level. “It’s a magnificent set up,” Bill beams. “We get a lot of comments from people saying this museum is just as good, if not better, than the Canberra museum because of the community and personal service. “No other museum outside Canberra has three Victoria Crosses in Australia.” Before retiring Bill spent 48 years working in the car industry as a motor mechanic and sales manager.

That former life helps him explain to museum visitors the workings of some of the prized pieces including the 1911 Girling, possibly the only one left in the world. “Wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” he says when asked what he thinks about the Ferret. “It goes as fast backwards as it does forwards.” here are around 6000 visitors a year to the museum and entertaining them every week is Ed Francis.



Ed, 63, is one of the newest to join the volunteer ranks, signing on last June. That does not mean however his role is not one of the best. Once a week on a rotating roster Ed sits at a wooden piano beside a display of vintage gloves, bonnets, glasses, brooches and lace, and plays classic tunes such as Richard Rodgers’ Blue Moon. lso taken with the museum and proud of their role in it are Marion and Reean Sneddon.


Fraser Life - Helping hands  

Jennifer Chapman meets the amazing army of volunteers who keep the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum going strong. Photos by Jocelyn...